The rain fell for so long. And since darkness had occupied so much space in their lives, it was hard for either to imagine a day when the sun would actually shine again. But in time, through silent prayers and things hoped for, a day came where their eyes witnessed the sun breaking through the dark billowy clouds above. On this day, the last Sunday of a most arduous year, the San Diego sun rose to its highest point in the sky. By mid morning, all the earth below was doused in soft light. Dead corners of society where dark shadows crept now sprouted with new life. Birds high up in the trees sang beautiful melodies that the elderly, scattered in bushy parks below, made their calculated chess moves to. With the rain now surely an afterthought, the residents of San Diego looked to one another, smiled and breathed sighs of relief… That is all but one couple.
This couple, the BEFORES, despite the change in forecast, walked with deathly heavy steps toward their gate at San Diego Airport that Sunday morning. ISABELLE, a woman much darker than when she first met LEVI, trailed her husband of 25 long years with slow, fallen steps. And Levi was no different. Levi wheeled his suitcase with one hand, never once looking back at Isabelle. To say that Levi was deeply gripped by his own interior thoughts would be a poor choice of words. The only way to describe Levi’s mental state would be to imagine the walls of the behemoth airport suddenly crumbling down block by block, at the same time a distant levee would break and a flood of rushing water would come sweeping through, washing Isabelle away, and Levi, so entrenched in his own thoughts would never hear Isabelle calling out to him.
The Befores entered the seating area of their gate. Levi was the first to sit, then Isabelle, who despite choosing to sit in the closest seat to her husband, was still oceans apart spiritually. Levi would breathe a deep breath then sit back in his chair and fold his arms high across his chest, his eyes looking to a place far far away. Isabelle’s legs would grow cold and she would place her hands on her thighs, lightly stroking them back and forth as her vacant eyes looked on. The hours would pass with the same quiet tone as it had in their shared lives. The two just sitting there, in silence, eyes miles apart, hearts no longer one. And while their fellow San Diegan’s whizzed and buzzed around them like objects in a swirling tornado, the Befores would continue to sit unnaturally still, broken from within, too far gone for any light to penetrate their viscous darkness.